Golf: Wilkinson denied by rain

Tim Wilkinson. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Wilkinson. Photo / Getty Images

Just one shot and six centimetres of rain separated Kiwi golfer Tim Wilkinson and his maiden win on the Tour.

Wilkinson was well-placed after the third round at the Stadion Classic on the United States' second-tier tour, but an overnight downpour at the University of Georgia course saw the final round washed out.

The former PGA Tour professional had to settle for a runner-up finish after the tournament reverted back to the 54-hole standings and American Brendon Todd edged Wilkinson by one stroke.

Todd's two-under 69 in the third round on Sunday (NZT) moved him to eight-under 205, one shot ahead of playing partner Wilkinson. But with Wilkinson set to chase his first victory on the tour, more than 6cm or rain fell in the Athens area in a 24-hour period, leaving tournament officials with no choice but to deem to course unplayable.

The decision to cancel the final round came mid-morning, with light rain still falling in northeast Georgia.

"This was not a difficult decision," said Tour tournament director Jim Duncan. "The course is completely unplayable. When you get a long, soaking rain like this on the clay, it basically becomes mush. There is not a tee on the golf course right now that's playable, anywhere."

In finishing runner-up, Wilkinson matched his career-best finish on the tour. His previous second-placed finish came at the 2005 Oregon Classic, which was also cut short to 54 holes because of rain on the final day.

Providing some consolation for the missed opportunity, Wilkinson climbed 17 places to 11th overall on the Tour money list. The top 25 players at the end of the season automatically qualify for the PGA Tour in 2014, while fellow Kiwi Danny Lee is also inside the cut-off in 17th place.

Meanwhile, New Zealand professional Pieter Zwart came from behind to claim the Papua New Guinea Open over the weekend.

Zwart's final round of six under par was good enough for a 15 under par total and a two shot victory over Australian Lincoln Tighe, marking the biggest win of the Kiwi's young professional career.

"It is a pleasure to now be known as the national champion of Papua New Guinea," Zwart said. "This victory has no doubt set me up for the year and I look forward to defending the title in 12 months' time."

With his win, Zwart will be exempt in almost every pro-am played across Australia for the next 12 months while he also gained entry to a number of tournaments on the Australasian Tour later in the year.

Elsewhere, New Zealand No 1 Michael Hendry slipped back in the final round of the China Open to finish in a share of 55th place.

The 33-year-old, who is the highest ranked Kiwi at 151st in the world, was three under par and in a share of 24th place midway through the back nine on Sunday before he faded with a poor finish.


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